Michigan gets more in federal grants to help low-performing schools

Michigan will get a big chunk of money to continue efforts to help failing schools.

The U.S. Department of Education announced today that Michigan is among 10 states that will receive more than $95 million through the federal School Improvement Grant program.

Michigan’s share — which will go to the Michigan Department of Education — is $16,757,681. Only Texas, with nearly $47 million, received more.

Beginning in 2009, the federal education department began investing more than $4.6 billion as part of a plan to turn around the nation’s worst-performing schools. Much of the money to fund the competitive grants — $3 billion worth — came from stimulus dollars under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The program has had mixed results. Data released by the federal department show that while some schools showed small gains, some posted worst test score results.

“Turning around our lowest-performing schools is hard work but it’s our responsibility, and represents a tremendous opportunity to improve the life chances of children,” U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a news release.

In previous years, the Michigan Department of Education distributed the grant money on a competitive basis to schools that are chronically low-performing. The new money will be distributed the same way. Bill DiSessa, spokesman for the state department, said schools that are in the bottom 5% academically in 2012 and 2013 will be eligible to apply for grants, with money awarded by early summer.

Prior to today, Michigan had received $194 million to provide grants for 52 schools. More than half of that came from stimulus funds.

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